You can look at it like giving a two-year-old cocaine. Or opium.
But, you can just call it Ritalin.
Ritalin, also known as methylphenidate, is a drug used to treat
individuals with Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit
Hyperactive Disorder and is one of the most widely prescribed drugs
Ritalin is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance
along with drugs like cocaine, opium and codeine because it has the
potential to become addictive and to create dependence on the drug,
according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
It is also sold on the street as a form of speed.
Sounds like a great drug for my future co-workers to grow up
The problem does not rest with the ability for this drug to
work, as the National Resource Center of AD/HD states that Ritalin
works to pacify symptoms of 75 to 90 percent of children with ADD
The problem rests in the dangerous misdiagnosis and over
diagnosis of behavioral disorders, thus leading to incredible
increases in addictive stimulant usage.
In the past decade, Ritalin production has increased by 700
The United States consumes more Ritalin than the rest of the
world combined, in correlation with the increasing numbers of
diagnosed cases of ADD/ADHD.
Debby Burfeind, author of “The Ritalin Debate” estimated that
the ADD diagnosis in the past decade has gone from under a million
cases to nearly five million cases.
Children are not changing drastically through the decades; the
American society is just aiming for a quick fix to behavioral
One in every 20 children will be taken to their doctor and will
be diagnosed with a behavioral disorder and then put on medication,
like Ritalin, to calm them down, according to a study released by
the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2001.
Lacking energy and the ability to deal with extra energy in a
child is a poor excuse to sedate a child with medication.
“There are many things that can appear to be behavior disorders,
like not getting enough sleep and learning troubles,” said Dr.
Julie Brockway of the Fort Collins Youth Clinic. “You want to make
sure that you are diagnosing them correctly because you don’t want
to put kids on unnecessary medication: they don’t grow well, they
don’t eat well, they are labeled as having a problem and they could
be missing the diagnosis of something different.”
Misdiagnosis can be dangerous to a child physically and
emotionally and parents need to rule out look-alike problems before
their child is put on any medication.
Granted, there are children who do suffer from ADD/ADHD and need
help, in the form of counseling or even prescription medication,
but not all children who fidget deserve to be drugged up and
labeled with a behavior disorder.
Only medical professionals can conclude that a child has a
behavior disorder, but the method of diagnosis can present several
First, try to remember the last time your doctor had much time
to sit and chat or research your symptoms beyond the examination
If your doctor is like mine, it almost never happens.
Secondly, if the medical professional does have the time to look
at the problem the medical criterion for diagnosing a behavioral
disorder are vague and often misinterpreted.
For instance, some of the medical criteria for ADHD are that a
child “often avoids, dislikes or is reluctant to engage in tasks
that require sustained mental effort such as schoolwork or
homework” and “often fidgets with hands or feet and squirms in
seat,” according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
Disorders, Fourth Addition (DSM-IV).
Not only does the word “often” make you wonder how frequently a
child has to engage in these behaviors before they are labeled with
a behavioral disorder, but also the criterion are ridiculous.
I know plenty of college students, let alone children, who do
not enjoy homework or who fidget and click pens in class.
I believe that a major cause of behavioral disorder
over-diagnosis is due to broad criteria created by a society that
wishes for a one-size-fits-all prognosis to problems.
Whatever the case may be, parents and professionals alike need
to work to understand a child and discover if the behavior is truly
the result of a disorder.
When people are misdiagnosed with behavioral disorders it is a
serious issue because the medications used to treat the conditions
do have side effects.
Although it is prescribed to children as young as two years old,
Ritalin can cause confusion, depression, loss of appetite, rapid or
irregular heartbeat and sleep problems.
There are enough problems in the world that we do not need to be
introducing 5 percent of our nation’s children to medication with
dangerous side effects and possible addiction and dependence
problems just because they are energetic or mischievous.
So, give the 2-year-old a teddy bear and leave the Schedule II
controlled substance in the bottle.